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NHLBI to Fund Genomic Studies of Lung Disease Genes and Variants

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute this week announced a funding opportunity aimed at the characterization of genes and genetic variants linked to lung diseases.

The institute plans to fund research project grants that will use a range of genomic characterization and analysis techniques to delve into some of the many genes and variants that have been identified through genome-wide association studies and other studies as being linked to lung diseases.

Many genes and chromosomal regions have already been linked with lung dysfunctions, such as asthma, COPD, sarcoidosis, and that number is only expected to increase over the next year as the results from meta-analyses and resequencing studies are released, NHLBI said.

However,"progress in getting from genes to function in pulmonary diseases has been remarkably slow," it said.

Now, NHLBI sees the potential for follow-up studies of those genes, variants, pathways, and mechanisms that could lead to new ways to prevent and treat many conditions. The next step toward realizing this potential, which this funding announcement seeks to support, will be to elucidate the functions of these genes and variants using genetic manipulations, 'omics approaches, systems biological analyses, and studies of epigenetic variation and gene-environment interactions, among other methods.

These high-risk studies will require diverse, multidisciplinary investigative teams that can provide a bridge "from genetics to molecular biology to cell physiology to disease" as is required to understand how a particular variant affects functioning and promotes disease, NHLBI explained.

The research topics NHLBI expects to fund in this initiative include, but are not limited to: genetics, genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, systems biology, and other approaches to determine how genetic variation effects lung disease; exploration of the role of the environment and mechanisms of transcriptional regulation; development of models systems (mice, zebrafish, worms, and yeast) and high throughput functional screening methods to assess how lung disease-related genes function in complex biological systems; exploration of the contribution of variants to abnormalities in gene expression or function in biospecimens; and applications of integrative systems biology, genomic, and bioinformatic approaches for mining sets of data to identify novel genes and pathways involved in lung diseases.

NHLBI has not set a funding limit for these grants, which will support projects of up to five years.

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